tv Your Business MSNBC March 24, 2013 4:30am-5:00am PDT
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small businesses are revitalizing the economy and american express open is here to help. that's why we are proud to present "your business" on msnbc. hi there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg and welcome to "your business" the show dedicated to giving you tips and advice to help your small business grow. if all of your neighborhood tech entrepreneurs and early adopters were missing from their usual haunts last week, well, it is highly possible they were in us a continue, texas. that's where the annual south by southwest music film and tech industry festival was happening. we headed down there ourselves to follow one tech startup looking for funding and some fun, too.
>> hi, i'm wearing these ears. >> it's called south by southwest. for those in the know it's one third music festival, one third film expo, one third tech, and 100% for the hottest new thing. >> the first year was known as twitter becoming really popular. the year after that foursquare became popular. the year after that all these different apps saw that growth happening so everyone tried to get in on that. then everyone started talking about what's going to be 0 the big app? >> edelsburg is a it tech industry observer. his company produces the social media shorty awards. he's a third year veteran and he says more than anything it's the fa face-to-face meetings that make this event so special. >> you realize you've met so many people you know on twitter,
only know from phone calls, you actually get to know them. >> i think it's all about the re real-life networking. >> this once a year tech meet up has taken place every march in austin, texas, since 1994. today it's become the event for tech entrepreneurs including seattle-based tom young and his partner ian schaefer and steven newman. >> there isn't anything that comes close in terms of this concentration of other founders of investors and journalists. >> well, it's a huge stage, so at the very least, you get to be known by a lot of people. >> tom and ian are founders of a website and app where consumers can get in-depth reviews of products directly from the users who already actually own them. a few months ago in seattle the yabbly founders first got word they were invited to compete in south by's contest.
tom started working on his pitch. >> i'm tom. i'm from yabbly. i'm tom from yabbly. >> and he hasn't stopped practicing since. >> so if you go on yabbly here is a guy and he gets to describe what he needs. >> as much as they want to win the contest, the true goal isn't so much about winning. what they've come to do is network, to find investors. >> i think you want to find the right match and you don't need 20 investors. you need just a few and that could totally transform the trajectory of a company. our job is to find that guy and to make that connection. >> with so many complex variables involved finding mr. or mrs. right is never easy. tom and ian have known this right from the start. as a matter of fact, it took a lot of networking for these two founders to find each other. they did it at an event in seattle. >> this is actually the exact table where ian and i first met.
>> i started trying to meet. one thing i learned is you can't do it on your own. >> you have to treat it like getting married. it's not just like, oh, this guy is available. he has the skill sets i want. let's do it. you have to really dig into who they are and what makes them tick. >> a friend told me about someone which sounded perfect. >> nice to meet you. i'm here to find other people with great ideas. >> we have an event that is co-founder speed dating with the idea being to see if there's an initial connection, chemistry. >> here at south by carrie runs a speed dating for founders session much like the one ian and tom went to in seattle. its purpose is to help startups, well, start up. at another location, tom leung finally goes live to make his pitch for yabbly. >> we have a team from yabbly
and are working on changing the way people shop for products. please give it up for yabbly. i'm tom from ya bbly. what i'm about to tell you is a true story. >> when tom finished, the team had a long wait. finals or not, they were there to meet people and meet people they did. >> a big part of south by southwest and having all these people interested in the same things, all being in the same place for a few busy, busy, busy days. >> and then the announcement about who made it to the finals. >> let's move over to the social group, social media group, and the final group advancing to tomorrow's finale is yabbly. >> congratulations. >> thank you. thank you very much. >> while they were thrilled to make it to the finals, they didn't end up winning the prize. but in many ways the real victory was being able to participate at all and making the connections that they hope 0 will take their business to the next level.
south by southwest offered entrepreneurs many opportunities to network, meet investors and get some publicity for their businesses. ramone gray is the editor of small business technology.com and took part in the festival. he's author of the new book "the facebook good to small business market i marketing." and a entrepreneur who focuses on social, mobile, and digital advertising and author of the new book "the startup playbook." you were both there. great to see you guys. >> thank you for having us. >> you are sort of our reporters out on the scene of south by southwest without even knowing it at the time. >> exactly. >> let me start with you, ramone. you've been on the show before. you know our audience. what was so interesting for small business owners? what did you learn? >> i learned a couple of things. one, small business owners who weren't there, you miss add great opportunity just to work with people. if you go to the sessions, there's a diversity of sessions from social media to technology to mobility to business growth that i think those are the
things small businesses should go from. one session i went to was all about how to tell a story or a narrative as opposed to telling the story and so that was interesting, a whole hour about n narratives as opposed to story telling. >> are there particular trends we should be watching out for? >> well, south by is very famous for launching kms and that's a transition to a networking platform. and just in the activated dialogue between the networks but also things you are exposed to around seeing people pitch their business over and over and over again, it's like the gladwellian. you have to see it and experience it a lot to even understand how to be successful in your own right. it's a very special grid and there's few events of this scale where you can go a period of four or five days and just be almost overwhelmed with the amount of content learning that takes place. >> is there something that you saw over and over again? you said in essence the pitch contests. was there something a lot of people were talking about?
>> there wasn't an overarching trend. 75% of the companies down there are outright bad ideas. you don't have to be right. you're in good company if you're not sure where you are and what stage of growth. it's a place you can go plug in and be accepted and experience good feedback. it has changed, moved from a launch platform to a network/feedback environment. >> and i found that a lot of businesses were there to get attention which is great as we saw on the reel. a lot of people wearing funny t-shirts and costumes. for small business that is have a dream, south by southwest, 20,000 something people there, if you want attention, maybe it will help you find it there. >> the piece we did was about networking. these guys networked to meet each other at this founder speed dating, in essence. they had one there. when you go to a conference that is 20,000 people, how do you network effectively? >> you do work before you get there. hopefully you've already built part of your own community, so to speak, to follow you and you
follow others and so you do a lot of the scheduling by the time you get down there. and you keep it tight and loose in the sense you're booking the never eat alone principle. in between that really concentrated environment to navigate and hopefully pick up some new relationships. >> the best thing to do, have cell phone numbers. two, confirm the night before. three, if you're sitting with someone, don't sit silently. hey, how are you? there is a calendaring feature so ahead of time, hey, j.j., how are you? where will you be at? >> for anyone who is shy if you go to something like this it's okay because somebody like you is going to come up and introduce themselves. a good place to go. thanks, guys. i bet if i did a poll asking all of you about your pass words, more than half of you would say you use the same one for every site or maybe you have a slight variation. well, i get it.
it is hard to remember different pass words. but get hacked just once and you'll regret that you weren't a little bit more thoughtful about this. nicole pearlrock is a technology reporter for "the new york times." she covers cyber security and privacy. i'm thinking this is really sma smart, i haven't paid enough attention to it. >> yeah, it's a big problem and we're all guilty of coming up with basic pass words. i know when "the new york times" was hacked, one of my colleagues admit admitted his password had been newspaper. >> it's better than his name or maybe 1, 2, 3, 4, whatever you get when you first sign in. forget the dictionary. >> get rid of the dictionary. there are tools out there, one called john the ripper. it can crack millions of pass words within a couple of minutes. hackers will hit go and it will just crack your password if it's
in the dictionary, any sort of dictionary or combination is in there. so forget about it. >> don't use pass words twice. this is so hard because how am i going to remember a different password for every place i'm going to? >> it's so hard. there are so many sites we all log on to and forever we all just used the same password. if one of those sites gets hacked, and it will get hacked, you will just lose the password to something far more scary like your bank account or your 401(k). try to use different pass words for different accounts. i have to admit i have one password that i use for a couple different sites that i call throwaway pass words and that i'll use for stuff like maybe my linkedin account but i would never use that same password for, say, my bank account or my stockbroker account. >> what's a pass phrase, when you say create a pass phrase? >> come up with a pass phrase. so come up with, say, your
favorite quote from a movie. and then just use the first letter or the first two letters of each word in that sentence. so you can combine them. try to make it as long as possible. my favorite movie quote, and this has nothing to do with any password i have, hackers out there listening, is my name is -- you killed my father. prepare to die. that's a great memorable movie quote. take the first letter of each word in that quote and piece it together and use that as your password. >> then you have to have different quotes for every site that you go to? >> that's right. >> this is a big memory game re really. >> it's a big memory game. >> there are sites -- there are services out there like one password and other services like it that i think is fine for the average person although for that article i talk to people who are presumably getting hacked every day, high-volume targets. so if you're paranoid, which i am, i won't use those services and i like to think that even
just sort of writing out my password on a piece of paper is actually safer than keeping them online or on your desktop or god forbid in your e-mail. do not store your password in your e-mail. >> or contacts list other pass words. jam on your keyboard. >> this is funny. so the two guys i talked to for this article, one is jeremiah grossman. he's a hacker at white hot security and he basically is a penetration tester so he's always working with different sites to show them what their vulnerabilities are so he, himself, is paranoid and he said one thing he'll do is jam on his password and then copy and paste that and hold on to it and that way if someone holds a gun to his head and asks him what his password is, he couldn't even tell them. >> okay, we have all these pass words, you mentioned this before but store pass words, what can possibly be secure about hundreds of pass words you can't
remember? >> so, like i said, there are services out there like one password that will store your pass words for you and it just matters how paranoid you are. if you're extremely paranoid you may not use those services, you can write them down on a piece of paper. some people i talk to keep them stored on a completely different computer for which they have some extremely long password that they have added all sorts of security to. i do think that the chances of someone coming into my apartment, sort of the physical proximity of someone coming in my apartment, stealing my sheet of paper that contains all my pass words is actually a far lesser chance of that happening than someone getting into my desktop or my e-mail and taking my pass words from there. if there's one takeaway, do not store your password file on your computer. don't store it in the clear on your desk top, in google doc or
e-mail. >> i hope everyone was listening. thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you so much. >> we really appreciate it. and nicole has a lot more tips for us. i'm going to be talking with her again and putting that up on the website later this week. when we come back, more advice on operating a business in this digital age including managing inventory 0 among several websites and the risks of mobile banking. and an austin-based business owner who was also at south by southwest gets into the elevator with his line of customizable guitars. we've all had those moments. when you lost the thing you can't believe you lost. when what you just bought, just broke. or when you have a little trouble a long way from home... as an american express cardmember you can expect some help.
but what you might not expect, is you can get all this with a prepaid card. spends like cash. feels like membership. today's elevator pitcher went to the south by southwest festival looking for funding and musicians to stir up interest in his line of guitars. let's see if his product rocks our panel. >> hey, guys. i'm the co-founder of mon can kerr guitars in austin, texas. we build custom electric guitars you can design be on our website. we look up to guys like jimi hendrix and stevie ray vaughn, all had custom guitars made for them by the big manufacturers. unfortunately, we haven't sold millions of records yet, so we launched moniker guitars.com
where you can choose the body shape, color, parts, even do custom graphics. we build at our shop in austin and ship them to you in three or four weeks. they start add a base price $850. we are looking to 0 expand manufacturing and do our first real marketing campaign. in return we're offering a 20% equity stake in the company. >> kevin, thank you so much. either of you guitar players? >> i play pea iano, not guitar. >> close. >> i tried to make one once. it is a lot harder than it looks. >> the pitch, ramon, how do you think he did? >> overall well. i think his delivery was great. i think you are having a solution to a problem of people who want fancy, interesting guitars. i would add more on the money that's been made. investors want to though how to get back their money and focus on the success you may have had before no matter how small. i would add those two things. >> right. okay. david? >> this business is passing the
best test of good business ideas, is it inate? this is a business that reflects your interest, your creativity, your passion. that's important. the amount of money you are raising and the equity is probably market appropriate. i think you have a good shot at raising the money and going into business. >> now the key for someone who isn't necessarily a customer, this shows how big the pitch is, would you take another meeting? did he show you there is a company here? >> i think so. you have a company already. you are not just a startup in a home office somewhere which is okay. but you're clearly mature to some degree. i think, yes. >> david? >> i like to invest in painkillers and not vitamins. i think this business is in between those two things depending on your passion of guitars. it's a successful niche business and could be very big relative to the culture you build around it. i probably would take the next meeting. you want to find someone who loves the space, loves music, loves guitars and i think you'll find money behind that passion. >> all right. they are certainly beautiful looking at them close up. thank you so much for coming on
to pitch the show. i hope south by southwest was great for you. thank you for your advice. if any of you have a pro detective or a service and want feedback from our panel on your chances of getting interested investors, just send us an e-mail. the address is firstname.lastname@example.org. in that e-mail please include a short summary of what your company does, how much money you are trying to when you intend with that money. i look forward to reading about your companies and to seeing some of you here on the show. another music company, whose products were prominent, has been around for 390 years. based in massachusetts, this family owned small business survived economic turmoil and values its longtime employees while embracing oughtmation. nbc's bob dotson has its story. >> reporter: american industry was built by immigrants. look beyond quarterly profits.
this factory in norwell, massachusetts, still does. the company makes symbols. he has been testing them more than half a century. >> you are not going to find would of these that are the same. >> reporter: mark is confident the 70 workers on the production line will always have good paying jobs. >> i have been here 26 years in june. i have never seen a layoff here ever. >> reporter: because no one competes with a machine. when a it is a is automated, the employee is taught another one. george has been rerained seven times in 40 years. >> how are you? >> reporter: for 15 years, the owner has offered incentive pay not just for working faster and producing more but for jobs that are done right the first time. >> there were only would months out of hose 15 years when we
haven't had a payout. >> reporter: because every person on the line just approve the work they do. >> 100% made in usa. >> reporter: that's a big reason why debbie's sister, the ceo, never outsourced a job overseas. >> the notion of sending your quality outsourcing your quality halfway around the world is unthinkable. >> reporter: her grandfather made some of them thinner and found a rainbow of sound. he did this during hard time. the start of the great depression. he began hiringing when all around him businesses were firinging. he lured good workers with a simple promise. >> it comes down to trust. doesn't it? you take care of us and we will take care of you. >> reporter: a pledge unbroken since the beginning. quality became more than a
slogan. 125 people in this little american company have cornered more than half of is symbol market in the world. what's the best piece of advice your dad gave you? >> poll the music. >> reporter: from big bands to the beatles. and beyond. musicians are always invited to help the company innovate. this pressurized broom can re-create the acoustics of concert venues across the country. giving matt flynn a preview of how his symbols will sound. >> in a place like this, big place, all the similar bombs i use are designed to be quick and bright. >> reporter: the success attracts people with deep pockets. >> have you ever been tempted to sell the company? >> we are not tempted. >> reporter: because debbie's
4-year-old granddaughter is in line to take over one day. >> do you want to work at the company some day? >> yes. >> reporter: no electronic symbols have been named after her generation. >> time to answer some of your business questions. the first one about inventory. >> i currently sell on several websites my own website, etsy, walk by. i want to find fought there is a way to control and manage the inventory among several websites. >> is there something? it seems like there would be something to do on the back end for that. >> absolutely. there's a lot of solutions that can do it. one at fishbowl. the beautiful thing at the internet, technicality term, connect all the back ends together to one source. that's the nutshell. >> what did you find out what to buy? >> i would look at small business web.
it is a compilation of 50 to 90 small business companies who all work together. here's one place i would go. check out intuit's quick books. inventory or fishbowl. >> okay. easy. thank you. let's get to the next one. e-mail from peter. he writes, i have never heard anyone discuss the potential risks of mobile phone banking for business. what do i immediate to know? is it risky? >> i mean, with the -- security was the big scare in the '90s. i think those issues have gone away to some extent. i would stick with really trusted hardware and software partners. people who are backed eed by t veriphones of the world. space is getting competitive. the back end, infratruck tour behind payment is mature space. it is really not as significant as people think it is. >> due diligence. common sense things as well. don't get too loose with your
security. >> okay. let's move on. this is a question about turning off your customers. >> how do we leverage social media to generate receive knew for us without alienating or retail customers? >> i think this is an interesting question. i was -- listening before and thinking why would she alienate her retail business? she should think of it as one big brand. >> when you wrote the book on social. for psychologically to be next year customer. show them the world. that emphasis will extinguish the business risk. whether that conversation is, you know, next to each other but getting across the table, you know, actually in conflict in any way, is -- that's where it gets risky. >> i think the big -- the thought of sit probably an old-school -- not distancing the questioner but old school that i had retail and non-retail. today's world it is all one. social media bringsing that together. people who want go to retail
store, they are going to go to retail store. >> exactly. you still connect with those same people. you connect with them on social media and they can still go to the store. >> absolute. >> i david ramon, thank you. really helpful advice. if any of you out there have a question for our experts you know what to do. go to our website. openforum.com/yourbusiness. hit the ask the show link and submit a question for the panel. if you would rather please send us an e-mail. email@example.com. you can learn more about running your business from following social media. let's see what hot entrepreneurial topics are trending on twitter. our friend steve strauss of "usa today" tweeted -- when trying to make a sale your job is to help your customer solve their problem. without a business plan, you are